April 6, 1977 |
Los Angeles, California
|Known for||Speech at Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, April 22, 1996.|
Jessen was born April 6, 1977 in Los Angeles, California. She was born during the 30th week of pregnancy; her medical records indicate she was born during a failed saline abortion attempt. Jessen's birth certificate is signed by the doctor who was performing the abortion. Jessen weighed 2 lbs at birth, and she was born with cerebral palsy, a non-progressive, non-contagious motor condition that affects various areas of body movement. Jessen spent three months in the hospital before being placed in foster care. She was adopted at the age of four.
Jessen's career as an activist began in 1991, when she was 14, after her adoptive mother, Dianna DePaul, told Jessen she was born to a 17-year-old girl, during a failed abortion attempt. Jessen has since campaigned against abortion, saying "It's more comfortable for people to think of abortion as a political decision, or a right. But I am not a right. I am a human being". Jessen said she's forgiven her birth mother, but is not interested in a relationship with her, citing a strong relationship with her adoptive mother. Jessen has also campaigned against exceptions to late-term abortion laws, on the grounds of fetal disability, citing her own disability Jessen appeared on the Maury Povich Show with her adoptive mother in 1991. In reporting her story and publicizing Jessen's early life to the nation, the New York Times observed that Jessen and Becky Bell, a teenage girl who reportedly died as a result of an unsafe abortion in 1988, had become the symbols of America's debate over abortion and characterized them as "poster girls whose stories are being shrewdly marketed by their supporters to keep passions high." Jessen is a stage name that was adopted when she began her activism.
In 1995, four years after Jessen was placed in the national spotlight, author Jessica Shaver published a biography on Jessen. In early 1996, Festival of Light Australia sponsored an Australian tour, during which Jessen spoke at venues in all states and territories. About two years later, on May 20, 1998, Muriel Patterson, a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council, read extracts of Jessen's 1995 biography to the Western Australian Legislative Council during the then-pending Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill.
In December 2005 Jessen travelled to London to support a campaign to reduce the number of abortions under the UK Abortion Act and to speak at a parliamentary meeting at the House of Commons. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster indicated that they hoped her story would encourage Parliament to look again at abortion.
On May 8, 2006, the Colorado State House of Representatives considered a resolution honoring the 90th anniversary of a local branch of Planned Parenthood. Republican representative Ted Harvey invited Jessen to sing the national anthem to the House that day and then told her story "because, 'I just wanted to put a face to this celebration'." 
In September 2008, Jessen was in Canberra, Australia, sponsored by the Australian Christian Lobby, to lobby federal politicians on late term abortions. The same month, Jessen appeared in a political advertisement during the 2008 US presidential campaign stating, "if Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here", referring to Obama's opposition to "born alive" legislation.
In September 2015, Jessen testified at a Congressional hearing investigating Planned Parenthood's practices regarding fetal tissue donation, following the Planned Parenthood 2015 undercover videos controversy. During her testimony, Jessen said she would ask Planned Parenthood the following question: "If abortion is about women’s rights, then where were mine?"
- The Oldenburg Baby, a German child born after an attempted abortion.
- Melissa Ohden, another saline abortion survivor.
- October Baby, a 2011 film based loosely on Jessen's life.
- Day, Elizabeth (2005-12-04). "Gianna Jessen was aborted at 7½ months. She survived. Astonishingly, she has forgiven her mother for trying to kill her". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Lewin, Tamar (1991-10-27). "In Debate on Abortion, 2 Girls Make It Real". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Elliott, Jane (2005-12-06). "I Survived An Abortion Attempt". BBC News. Retrieved 28 February 2007.
- "Gianna Jessen Biography" (PDF). http://www.giannajessen.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "The Age". 2008-08-31. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Shaver, Jessica (1995). Gianna: Aborted... and Lived to Tell About It. Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 1-56179-415-5.
- "Gianna - glad to be alive". Light. Australian Festival of Light and Community Standards Organisation, February 1996. p 12.
- "How the media saw Gianna". Light. Australian Festival of Light and Community Standards Organisation. May 1996. p. 12.
- "Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill - Assembly's Amendments Agreed To". Parliament of Western Australia. p. 2828 / 1. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Womack, Sarah (2005-12-07). "Churchmen back woman who survived being aborted". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Alderson, J (2006-05-09). "Abortion jab earns rebuke". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on 2006-05-20. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Prismall, Barry (2008-08-31), Abortion survivor joins debate, Melbourne: The Age, retrieved 2012-04-18
- "Gianna Ad". BornAliveTruth.org. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Henig, Jess (2008-09-23). "Factcheck.org: Abortion Ads Miss the Truth". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Somashekhar, Sandhya (9 September 2015). "Planned Parenthood hearing on Hill evokes old battles over abortion". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Wetzstein, Cheryl (9 September 2015). "Planned Parenthood misleads, women testify at congressional hearing". The Washington Times. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Uffalussy, Jennifer (9 September 2015). "Investigation or Political Theater? 6 Facts About the Congressional Hearing on Planned Parenthood". Yahoo Health. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Hallowell, Billy. "Pro-Life Director Discusses 'October Baby' — A Feature Film About Abortion Survival". TheBlaze.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Official website of Gianna Jessen
- Gianna Jessen's page on The Abortion Survivors Network web site
- Born Alive Truth political advertisement featuring Gianna Jessen critical of Barack Obama's position on Born Alive legislation
- Gianna Jessen's address in Australia (YouTube)
- Gianna Jessen's interview on the Maury Povich Show, 1991
- Gianna Jessen's testimony at Congressional Judiciary Committee hearing, September 9, 2015